Carol Manley has been a corn detasseler, a lawn mower assembler, a pea inspector, a cushion trimmer, an envelope packer, a coil winder, a welfare mother, and a computer programmer. She has a B.A. in Computer Science and an M.A. in English. She also has three children, two grandchildren, a big fat mortgage and some pretty good friends. Her awards include a Friends of Lincoln Library Writer of the Year Award and an Illinois Arts Council Artistís Achievement Award
From the Book:
With a woman you never really know if sheís yours. But with a car you get a title. Except that you only get that title when the very last payment is made. True enough there are women whoíll give up more than that without any compensation up front, but a car ainít intentionally making life difficult for you the way women do. And a car generally lets you know up front just what the cost is gonna be. There may be unexpected expenses, but that ainít the fault of the car. A car will let you look under the hood and itís your own fault if you donít understand what you see there. With women, the ones that let you look under the hood are the ones that got too much mileage to worry about.
But the main thing about my car is that God gave it to me and I ainít never yet met a woman I can say that about.
Trying to get the last payment made on that car that God gave me before the Ready-Credit repo man gets it has been causing me to lose more sleep than I can tell you. Seems like I didnít done nothing but toss and turn all night when Reverend Doowada called me early Sunday morning.
ďI need you to pick up Mother Serena and her husband,Ē he said to me in a tone of voice that let me know he didnít want no questions.
ďAnd,Ē he said, ďdonít take the church van. I gotta get it looked at.Ē
Before I could even clear my throat, he had hung up. He was wrong in so many places that I wouldnít have known where to start straightening him out anyway. For one thing, Mother Serena ainít no more married to that man than I am. Iím as glad as anybody that the woman done found somebody to love. Between ducking and dodging all the love that that woman had to give, some of us couldnít seem to get no work done.
My own spiritual journey had been dragging to a halt due to all the times I had pick up that woman and take her home. Didnít nobody have the nerve to say it in the open, but there was a lot of us praying that God would deliver her a man so she could quit pestering the rest of us. And God is good.
Only thing wrong is that we forgot to ask God to give her a man who could drive her to church instead of a man who got to be picked up as often as she does. You got to be specific what you ask God for. Something you can let Him choose for you, but if itís important to you, you canít be bashful about speaking up. Like I did with my car. I prayed for an El Dorado with Red Leather interior and thatís what I got. Butter yellow original paint job, gold hood ornament, gold wire spokes and white wall tires. Thatís my baby.
Only problem is that itís a hard car to hide from the Ready-Credit repo man. Which is why I could not be picking up no church mothers that morning. I had to keep that car on the downlow.
But God does provide all our needs to those who trust in Him. And He had provided me with my own keys to the church van so that I didnít have to go ask Reverend Doowada for them after he told me not to drive that van.
I got to the church early enough that there wasnít no repo men prowling the streets. Repo men tend to not be saved, so they usually stay out late on Saturday nights and donít get up early on Sunday like us sanctified folks do. I checked out the van, didnít see no problems and replaced it in the church garage with my El Dorado. I patted down that car, spit polished the hood ornament and promised it a proper washing whenever it got safe to drive it out in public.
I didnít say nothing to the Reverend. God donít want you confusing folks in authority with too much information. Then I went and got Mother Serena and her little non-husband Brother Riddly.
Brother Riddly done been through some stuff in his life and I figured he might be somebody a man could confide in when he got troubles. We got Mother Serena situated in the back of the van and I had Brother Riddly to come to sit up front with me.
ďBeautiful morning,Ē Brother Riddly said. Ever since he had got saved from demon alcohol Brother Riddly found a lot of pleasure in living. When he said a morning was beautiful, you know he meant it. I hadnít noticed it myself, worried like I was about my car and the repo man.